Sarah, Director of Finance , Leonard Cheshire International | London

New Employer

Leonard Cheshire International

Leonard Cheshire Disability's International Department works through five regional offices in Africa and Asia. We support children with disabilities to go to school, adults with disabilities to earn a living, and all disabled people to access the rehabilitation, health and other support they need. We also campaign to put disability at the heart of international development, and support young disabled people to campaign for their rights.
Our regional offices are backed up by a staff team based in London, and our work is strengthened by our Disability and Inclusive Development Research Centre at University College London. The department also acts as the secretariat for the Leonard Cheshire Disability Global Alliance - sharing good practice and innovation through a confederation of over 250 independently managed Cheshire services in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe.

Leonard Cheshire International

Career Changer

Sarah (CA) Name
Sarah (CA)
Managing Director of Finance

Sarah found herself at a career-crossroads in 2012 when she was made redundant. To keep herself busy and to gain an insight into the charity sector she decided to volunteer with AfID. She decided upon a charity in India called Satya Special School. The school was started in June 2003 to help many children with various mental-health disabilities - such as autism, down's syndrome and learning difficulties. 

Sarah spent 3 weeks at Satya Special School before returning to the UK to search for a new role in the charity sector. We caught up with Sarah in her new role with UK charity Leonard Cheshire Disability to see if volunteering made a difference to her decision to switch sectors.
Q: Why did you choose to volunteer; was it part of a planned career change? 
Volunteering is something I had considered on and off for several years. I was made redundant in June 2012 and was looking at roles in both the private and charity sector.  Volunteering provided a great opportunity to learn more about the charity sector and to make productive use of my newly found free time.
Q: How did volunteering benefit your decision to work in the charity & Int’l Dev. sectors? 
Volunteering helped me in two ways. It helped me decide that I was committed to pursuing a career in the charity sector and it then helped to demonstrate my commitment during the job search and interview process.
Q: Where are you working now? Can you tell us a little about your current role and how it differs to your last full time position in your previous sector? 
I am currently Managing Director of Finance at Leonard Cheshire Disability.  I am responsible for all aspects of finance.  In many respects my role does not differ from my last position in the private sector. Budgets, forecasts, month end and year end remain the focus of my working life and I continue to manage a reasonably large international team.  I think that accountants are very fortunate to have such a transferable qualification.
Q: What would you say are the pros & cons of your decision?
I do not regret my decision to move into the charity sector at all.  Whilst the day-to-day working of a finance team is similar to the private sector, I now have the satisfaction of knowing that, in a very small way, I am contributing to improving someone's life.  Cheesy but true!
Q: What would be your advice to other accountants considering a similar career change? 
If you don't try you will always be wondering.  What's stopping you?